Landmark Court of Appeal Ruling makes it easier for disinherited children to challenge a parent's Will
Melita Jackson passed away in 2004 leaving her £500,000 estate to three animal charities, RSPCA, Blue Cross and the RSPB. She made it clear within her Will why her daughter, Heather Ilott, was not to benefit from her Estate, however despite this, the Court has awarded Ms Ilott over £160,000 from her mother’s Estate.
Ms Ilott and her mother’s relationship deteriorated when Ms Ilott was just 17 and went to live with her boyfriend, who she later married.
Ms Ilott claimed that her mother had not made ‘reasonable provision’ for her and challenged the £50,000 previously awarded to her by the Court. Judges ruled that she should be awarded money from her mother’s estate due to her 'basic human need' and that it was 'unreasonable' for Mrs Jackson to not leave her daughter with anything.
Key factors that played a part in this decision was that Ms Ilott was in receipt of state benefits and the Court stated she would otherwise face a life of poverty - she could not afford holidays or buy clothes for her children. Lady Justice Arden said Ms Ilott's mother had been ‘unreasonable, capricious and harsh’ and therefore ruled she should receive a greater share of the estate.
Furthermore, the Judges confirmed that the fact Mrs Jackson had little connection to the charities to which she left her money was a factor in the ruling.
This ruling means that although you can still disinherit your children, you'll have to explain why and what connects you to those beneficiaries you do leave money to.
It is also thought that this ruling will make it easier for adult ‘disinherited’ children to challenge wills and claim greater amounts of money by way of claiming ‘reasonable provision’ has not been made for them.
If you have any concerns about the provision made in your Will or need to ensure you have a Will in place, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01908 660 966 or by email on Kathryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.